Gun Digest

Does This Mossberg 590 Tactical Shotgun Blow The Rest Away?

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When it comes to the Mossberg 590 tactical options, this adjustable stock model might be the cream of the crop.

What does the Tactical Tri-Rail Adjustable offer:

Of all Mossberg 590 tactical shotguns this is the one fits me perfectly, and the only pistol grip shotgun that I like: the 590 A1 tactical pump. This is an outstanding example of a traditional pump, based on the original and long-serving Mossberg 500 series. It was previously only available in law enforcement and military models and is part of Mossberg’s extensive Special Purpose line of shotguns.

What makes this gun, formally called Tactical Tri-Rail Adjustable, work so well is the use of the M4 carbine six-position buttstock complete with M16A2 pistol grip. With the M4 grip collapsed to its smallest length, it is a perfect fit. In addition to the stock configuration, the 590 A1 I tested came equipped with three-dot (ghost ring sights are also available), non-adjustable, non-luminous front and rear sights. Very solid. The only complaint I have is that the rear notch is a tad too wide for the front, and I would prefer the ability to regulate the sights for full power or 3-inch magnum loads. The magazine capacity of this particular version is nine rounds. It'd be nice to see an 11-round Mag-Fed version come down the line.

I had never worked with Mossbergs prior to writing this, so I don’t profess to have as much familiarity with them as I do the Remington 870, but I can tell you I really liked this gun. Like I mentioned earlier, the handling of this gun is quick, and it feels more like a 20 gauge pump than a 12.

What I also noticed about it was the recoil, or lack thereof. I had it at the range, along with a Mossberg gas operated semi-automatic 930, a bigger, heavier gun with a standard stock. As I got buckshot out to test both guns, Federal full power 9-pellet 00 Tactical, I expected a bigger, gas operated gun with an actual recoil pad to shoot with less perceived recoil than a smaller, lighter pump shotgun. I was surprised to find that the perceived recoil of the 590 A1 was less than that of the 930! Actually, I was shocked how I got thumped by the 930 over the 590 using the same exact loads.

The stock on this Mossberg 590 tactical shotgun is angled sharply downward away from the receiver, and not straight back like it would be on an AR-15 M4 due to the design of the receiver. Remember, a sporting design had to be adapted to a military part that was originally never designed to be on a shotgun. So I’m speculating that some of the free recoil energy is being dispersed straight back into nothing, with a lesser part of it being sent downward through the stock. We’ve all heard that straight stocks on guns cause it to “kick more,” right? That’s the only way I can explain it. I hope that’s plausible, but even if it’s not, I’m sticking with it.

Mossbergs have a sliding safety on the rear of the receiver. It took just a little bit of familiarization to be comfortable with it as compared to the pushbutton trigger-guard safety on the 870. The main reason is that I have always worked my law enforcement shotguns out of Condition Three, and almost never actually engaged the safety during training or use in the field. I just plan on leaving the safety off during all usage. I also had been taught at an early age and in Boy Scout shooting programs that safeties, particularly crossbolt type safeties on long guns, were unreliable and should never be trusted or counted on, so I always kept an empty chamber unless actually shooting. In police work, the safety position shouldn’t be a big issue. I worry more about where the slide release is than the safety, and on the Mossberg, the slide release button is on the left rear of the trigger guard, rather than the left front. The A2 pistol grip on this particular model slightly obstructs (very slightly) the release button and it took a little while to get used to it, but it was also no big problem. The entire weapon has a parkerized finish, including the sights.

The 590 A1 also worked well for smaller statured females in my academy. They found it easier to work with and/or better for them than the 870 Express magnums we use. They also felt there was less recoil than with the Remington 870.

The construction and setup of the Mossberg feels solid, and it is the only brand to have passed military spec requirements to become part of our defense inventory, so there has to be something going for it. If anything, it is priced reasonably, and it is a U.S.-made piece, which is remarkable for a price range that competes with Turkish-made guns.

Tactical Tri-Rail Adjustable Specs:
Gauge: 12
Capacity: 9
Chamber: 3″
Barrel Type: Heavy-Walled
Barrel Length: 20″
Sight: Ghost Ring
Choke: Cylinder Bore
LOP Type: Adjustable (six positions)
LOP: 10.75″ – 14.25″
Barrel Finish: Parkerized
Stock Finish: 6- Pos Adjustable Synthetic/Alum (Black)
Weight: 7.5
Length: 36.125″
MSRP: $879

Related (Model 500 Adjustable, Not 590):

Editor's Note: This is an excerpt from Gun Digest Book of Tactical Shotguns.

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